Being cursed with bad upstairs neighbors might be the most torturous punishment from the higher up. But you don’t need to stress anymore because in this article I am going to rescue you with practical solutions on how to reduce noise from upstairs neighbors.
However, the actual culprit might not be your upstairs neighbor but instead the architecture of the apartment your owner rented you.
Keeping this in mind, it is imperative to introduce some modifications to your apartment if you want a reliable solution to your problem.
But since all of us are not prepared for spending a lump sum amount so abruptly, I also dug out some budget-friendly products that will solve your noise issue.
This article will also acquaint you with your legal rights and equip you with the perfect gadget to settle the score with your annoying neighbors if all else fails.
So let me share everything that helped me redeem my peace back, and rush down to the sections below.
How to reduce noise from upstairs Neighbors?
However, a sturdy fix is still a better deal, so if you have the budget to spend some bucks, you should invest in some noise-proofing stuff that may help reduce the noise from upstairs to the maximum extent.
Before I get into the details, you need to understand that airborne noise is the sound of your neighbor talking or watching TV that enters your territory by transmitting through the air.
In contrast, the impact noise is the sound of your neighbor stomping on your ceiling (their floor) or moving their furniture that gets transmitted via a solid medium or the structure of your apartment.
Now you may scroll down and find out which solutions are better suited to counter which type of noise.
Voice your concerns
There is a possibility that your upstairs neighbors might not even be aware of the inconvenience they are causing.
So, it might be a great idea to start by communicating your concerns to them, and they might actually make an effort to keep it low in the future or be courteous enough to consider soundproofing their floors – there is no wrong in hoping, right?
But if you are too shy to communicate with them in person, you can write a short note and slide it under their door. But try to be as subtle and friendly in your writing as you can.
Earplugs might be the most typical and cheap solution to noise.
Grab a pair of moldable earplugs that you are comfortable wearing, and voila! You can carry on with your work without getting disturbed by the ruckus going on in your apartment.
But you need to be careful about sleeping with them as they might prevent you from hearing a smoke or fire alarm go off.
Noise Cancelling Headphone
Noise Cancelling Headphones use Active Noise Control (ANC) to cancel out the irritating ambient sounds so that you can listen to your audio better without having to raise the volume to an ear-damaging level.
They are a savior when you want to relax on the weekend while being stuck with a loud neighbor.
Just grab the popcorn, slide on your noise-canceling Headphone and play your favorite season on the TV to destress after a hectic week.
But considering their benefit, they cost about ten times more than passive headphones.
The white-noise machine helps to block out external sounds and aids sleep and concentration. So it can help you get that good night’s sleep or redeem your productivity when you are stuck with your loud upstairs neighbors.
A white-noise machine will help mask out mid, and high-frequency sounds like honking, creaking, and the noise of your neighbor talking. But to mask out the low-frequency sounds like your neighbor’s footfalls or the bass of his EDM music, you will have to connect the white-noise machine with a good pair of headphones that you can slide over your ears.
In contrast to typical drywall, soundproof drywall has two layers that sandwich a dampening compound.
According to the new building codes, multi-family buildings should have an STC value of at least 50. Still, many old buildings typically have an STC value of 33, and thin walls lacking insulation are the actual reasons why the sound of everything your neighbor does gets transmitted to your space.
While there are many options that you can use to soundproof your drywall, Quiet Rock drywall is by far the best. It is basically a sound dampening gypsum panel that absorbs airborne noise.
But soundproofing drywalls are ineffective in reducing the structure-borne impact noise and require both labor and cost for installation.
Suspended or drop ceiling
A drop or suspended ceiling is a secondary ceiling that you can install 4-6 inches below your original ceiling.
The space between the two ceilings has a soundproofing effect that decouples the airborne noise, but the impact noise may find its way through the light fixtures or ductwork.
You may enhance the soundproofing efficacy of the drop ceiling by adding a suitable insulation material like fiberglass in the space.
Drop ceilings are a practical and less messy solution than dry walls, but they may reduce some inches of your room space.
Soundproofing or acoustic paint is made with sound-absorbing fillers that prevent the noise from passing through your walls and ceiling.
It works both ways and prevents the sound in your room from going outside, and the outside noise from coming inside. Applying three coats of this paint as per recommendation will effectively reduce communication level (6-12 decibels) noise.
Acoustic paint might be a quick and resilient barrier against noise, but it won’t help block very loud sounds and is pricier than regular paints.
Acoustic sealant such as green glue is a rubber-type material that dampens the noise by converting the sound vibrations into small amounts of heat. It expands and contracts with the temperature fluctuations that contribute to its durability.
It is an affordable, space-saving, and sustainable soundproofing solution compared to others and may help you seal the apartment from airborne noise.
But it is ineffective against impact noise and requires some time to mature.
Involve the law
The warranty of habitability state law obliges the landlord to ensure that the apartment they are renting is noise-free. So you have the right to involve the building management and complain in case of violation.
But to pursue the case, you need to keep recorded evidence.
How to record my upstairs neighbor stomping, you ask? Just buy a recorder and fasten it to your ceiling, and your proof is ready.
Moreover, the New York Times consulted David A. Kaminsky, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, on the upstairs neighbor noise. He stated that most leases make it compulsory for the tenants to carpet 80% of their floors and be careful about making disruptive noises.
Get your revenge (legally)
If neither talking to your neighbor nor cutting off the noise source is helping you reinstate your peace, then take it as a call to even out all scores with your noisy upstairs neighbor and arm yourself with a ‘ceiling vibrator (thumper).’
A ceiling vibrator will send vibrations into the floor of your upstairs neighbor and serve as a reminder that they are being noisy.
Worried about the legal implications? Relax, this gadget won’t impact the structural integrity of the apartment, so you can’t get in trouble with the management. And your neighbor can’t blame you for infringement because you know who started it.
Reducing noise Impact from above
Noise disturbance may disrupt your life’s balance, and it may reduce your productivity and cause stress, anxiety, and hypertension. And these are all the very reasons why you need to take care of the impact noise as vigilantly as you adopt different measures to reduce the airborne noise.
I have already made you aware that impact noise is transmitted via the reflective material like concrete used in the structure of the building you have rented. And the only effective way to reduce it is to decouple your apartment ceiling, dampen your neighbor’s floor or combine both techniques to reduce the noise transmission.
Scroll ahead to know how you can practically apply all this to your apartment.
Carpets and paddings
Carpets and padding are the answer to your query about how to stop upstairs neighbors from stomping.
Carpets absorb and dampen the vibrations of the falling objects and act as a defense against your neighbor stomping on the floor. Adding a layer of paddings like polyurethane foam or sponge underneath the carpet will further contribute to the impact of noise reduction.
You may request your upstairs neighbor to carpet their floor or gift them one. But since you now know that there is a possibility that the building management already requires your upstairs neighbor to carpet their house so you can check up with them in this regard first.
Acoustic underlays are a thick and insulative layer of rubber or any other material that separates the floor and subfloor, which helps in reducing noise impact from above and the sound-borne noise.
Underlays are a budget-friendly strategy to deal with your neighbor’s impact noise hammering on your head, so you may offer them to pay for it.
Resilient Sound Isolation Clip (RSIC) is fastened to the substrate, a gypsum board is added to the bottom, and the gaps are filled with a sealant or acoustical caulking. This assembly may help in effectively reducing the impact noise from above.
Sound-proof the walls
If the above techniques are not helping to reduce the impact noise from above and you can feel vibrations in your apartment walls, then you may consider soundproofing your walls the same way you sound-proofed your ceiling.
For effective soundproofing, you will have to open your walls, add resilient clips and insulation, and close them up with drywall that has a sealant sandwiched between its layers.
How to keep neighbors from hearing you?
With all that noise from upstairs wrecking the peace and quiet of your apartment, you might be wondering why you will want to consider keeping your neighbor from hearing your cries and screams.
One reason is that soundproofing your room may also help to reduce noise coming from outside. Nonetheless, this section will also help you pick out recommendations to add to the note that you may slide under your neighbor’s door to help him contain the noise in his apartment.
So, Head down to find the details.
Acoustic ceiling tiles
Acoustic ceiling tiles are made of different substrates like wood or fiberglass and lay into the frame of suspended or drop ceilings. These tiles effectively absorb sound, and they are an affordable and aesthetic option that you can use not only to prevent the sounds in your room from dispersing outside but also to keep the upstairs noise from entering your space. They will serve the same purpose if your neighbor decides to install them as well.
These panels are a kind of soundproof foams that are installed at a specific angle to absorb sound. If you could convince your upstairs neighbor to install acoustic panels in their room to prevent you from hearing their business, it may help resolve the nuisance the airborne noise is causing on your floor.
Sound absorbing plants may reduce up to 50% of the sound on your neighbor’s floor, which may prevent it from reaching your space.
Or you can also place these plants in your apartment for their properties to absorb, deflect and refract noise. You can put densely grown ferns, baby’s tears, money trees, peace lily, or other such indoor plants in spaces that suit their growth conditions to serve the purpose.
In a nutshell, there are multiple ways to counter or avenge the disturbance caused by the noisy beings living upstairs.
Investing in soundproofing and sound blocking stuff like multi-layer drywalls and earplugs may help you completely get rid of the nuisance of airborne noise. At the same time, decoupling is the best way to reduce impact noise from above.
And if you don’t have the budget to spend on solving the problem from your end, you can keep sending ‘do not disturb’ reminders to your neighbor through the roof with a ceiling vibrator.
Nonetheless, your priority should be to muster up the courage to talk to your neighbor before resorting to other things.